Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 33

Hope everyone reading had a great holiday and will have a great new year.  Here’s more tracks from the letter M that hit the Billboard rock charts in the ’80s but didn’t cross over to the Hot 100 for you to play at your new year’s eve shindig.

The Members
“Working Girl” 1983, #34 (download)

I’ve never really liked this song but it’s always reminded me of the early days of MTV. I can’t remember the video for it at all but every time I hear the song I think back to the days of actual video. The song itself only works for me in the great chorus. I think everything else about it is pretty dull and I’m not a fan of Nicky Tesco’s voice so this is simply a song to bring back memories for me.

Men at Work
“Be Good Johnny” 1983, #3 (download)
“Underground” 1983, #20 (download)
“High Wire” 1983, #23 (download)

I’m a little confused as to what Columbia records was doing in the US with Men at Work as they hit their peak. In ’82 “Who Can It Be Now?” spent a week at #1 and then “Down Under” spent four weeks at the top and yet they didn’t release a third single. Rock radio was smart enough to pick up on “Be Good Johnny” written from the perspective of young Johnny and kind of a take on “Johnny B. Goode.” This clearly wasn’t a number one song and neither was “Underground” but even it had a good chance of being a top 10 hit in my opinion.

“High Wire” was from Cargo and was as good as any of the other singles they released from the album but since the third single – “Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive” failed to crack the top 20, I guess the run for Cargo on the Hot 100 was deemed to be fading and thus “High Wire” only hit the rock charts. Unlike the first two above this one was actually released as a single.

There are no Metallica songs other than “One” that charted in the ‘80s but that just felt so wrong, so they get a slot anyway.

Midnight Oil
“Dreamworld” 1988, #37 Modern Rock #16 (download)

The Oils’ Diesel and Dust is my 5th favorite album of the decade and just an absolutely perfect piece of pop music. “Dreamworld” is the third track on the disc and would have been the better follow up single to “Beds Are Burning” than “The Dead Heart.”

Mighty Lemon Drops
“Into the Heart of Love” 1989, Modern Rock #5 (download)

I don’t recall ever being a big fan of the Mighty Lemon Drops back in the day and I don’t ever pull out the album from which this came – Laughter. However, “Into the Heart of Love” is a brilliant song and frankly if I like Midnight Oil so much, at least musically, this single isn’t that far off from the upbeat moments on Diesel and Dust.

Steve Miller Band
“Nobody But You Baby” 1986, #9 (download)
“Ya Ya” 1988, #10 (download)

On the other hand, if you read “The Ass End” original series you know my extreme hatred for Steve Miller in the ‘80s. I’m convinced no one in music ever went from totally cool to totally shit as quickly as Miller. Virtually everything he did in the ‘80s sounds so amateurish that it’s laughable. “Nobody But You Baby” might be one of the closest things to a listenable Steve Miller track from 1982 on through the rest of the decade. Even “Ya Ya” which was a big hit for Lee Dorsey in the early ‘60s sounds so cheesy with those keyboards that sound like what my son just got for Christmas. That came from Born 2 B Blue which was a solo record of jazz standards that the world definitely could have done without.

“Burning Inside” 1989, Modern Rock #23 (download)

Maybe Steve Miller should have learned to use his keyboards like Al/Alain/Alien Jourgensen – you have to admit that would be interesting. You’d have to think this wouldn’t have been the first Ministry hit had the mod rock chart existed before late 1988. You’d have to think that “Over the Shoulder” from Twitch and “Stigmata” from The Land of Rape and Honey would have at least charted, but “Burning Inside” was the only one in the decade and it barely hit the chart in the ‘80s having most of its success in early 1990. It came from The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste which would be the record that completed the transition from techno-pop to industrial music.

“Castaway” 1984, #31 (download)

To this day I’m still bothered by this sound coming out of a group called Mi-Sex (named after the Ultravox song “My Sex”). I always see it and expect some kind of electro-dance sound like Magazine 60 or S-express. It’s a shame I can’t get over that too because “Castaway” is a fantastic song off their final album, Where Do They Go?

Mr. Big
“Addicted To That Rush” 1989, #39 (download)

Yes, that Eric Martin – solo in the original series and with the Eric Martin band a few weeks ago in this one. Mr. Big is of course known for “To Be With You” which spent three weeks at #1 in 1991 and defined their career. It’s pretty much the only song non fans of the group really remember but they were actually pretty solid past that track.

I don’t even know how many people realize that “To Be With You” was actually from their second album. Their self-titled debut was released in 1989 and is one of the least cheesiest examples of commercial hard rock for that time frame. It’s a highly underrated record and worth picking up if you can get it cheap (which you should be able to). They were billed as a “supergroup” but I don’t know if you call Eric Martin, a guy from Racer X and the bassist for David Lee Roth a supergroup.

Interesting note about “Addicted to that Rush” is that it shows up on the next album as well. There’s a track called “CDFF – Lucky This Time” on Lean Into It and the “CDFF” part (CD Fast Forward) is “Addicted” with the fast forward button held down.


Joni Mitchell
“Snakes and Ladders” 1988, #32 (download)

Yuck. I simply can’t stand this song and her album Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm just had too much going on and was pretty uneven. The album was recorded in Peter Gabriel’s studio and featured Gabriel on the first official single “My Secret Place,” Don Henley on this track which was given to radio stations pre-album release and a host of other guests like Benjamin Orr, Thomas Dolby, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Billy Idol and even Wendy and Lisa. Sounds like something that would yield incredible results on paper but it’s a bit of a mess in reality.

Kim Mitchell
“Patio Lanterns” 1986, #36 (download)

Here’s another great song that I find so interesting if only because it sounds so completely different from the one song he’s known for in the US – “Go For Soda.” I believe “Patio Lanterns” is actually his biggest hit back in his native Canada but didn’t make much of a dent here for some reason, despite it being crazy good. It was from his third solo album Shakin’ Like a Human Being.

“Cold Fever” 1986, #29 (download)

Another artist pretty much known for one hit in the US (“Out of Mind Out of Sight”) I’ve only listened to one album of theirs which their biggest hit was named after but if the rest of their releases (three before and one after) are as poppy and catchy as that one then they should have been a much bigger success.

Molly Hatchet
“Bloody Reunion” 1981, #31 (download)
“Lady Luck” 1981, #46 (download)
“Stone In Your Heart” 1984, #26 (download)
“There Goes the Neighborhood” 1989, #26 (download)

You know I never really liked Molly Hatchet until I read our series last year written by Tom Werman who was the long time producer of the group. And while his production is not what makes or breaks Molly Hatchet for me by any means, what his articles did was make me pay more attention to the group and the differences between albums that I always thought were kind of too similar to really enjoy. Single wise it’s hard to beat “Bloody Reunion” which is wonderfully upbeat and has some killer riffs in it. Same with “Lady Luck” which combined with the former makes their album Take No Prisoners my favorite Molly Hatchet disc.

“Stone In Your Heart” just sounds way too ‘80s for these guys (and I love saying shit like “way too ‘80s” in a blog about songs in the ‘80s) and “There Goes the Neighborhood” was good, but not really very 1989.

Eddie Money
“No Control” 1982, #60 (download)
“I’m Moving On” 1984, #25 (download)
“Forget About Love” 1989, #36 (download)

I was never the biggest Eddie Money fan to begin with but these days if he happens to be on XM or something as I’m driving I actually make the move to turn him off. I think I’ve grown to dislike his mumbling vocal style and huge number of middle of the road songs that people went crazy over for some reason. All three of these tracks sort of fit in that category for me. None of them are bad at all, but none of them are really good either. Now granted, they didn’t cross into the hot 100 so people didn’t go too crazy over these but they still charted here at least. Now, I haven’t went back and read what I wrote about him in the original series yet and I really don’t know when I started disliking Eddie Money but the fact that I continue to dislike him more and more over the years is kind of odd even for me as it’s not like I’m listening to anything new from him. They are still the same songs I grew up with.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Mr. Big, “Addicted To That Rush”
Worst Song: Steve Miller, “Ya Ya”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Men at Work (6): “Who Can It Be Now?” “Down Under” “Overkill” “Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive” “It’s A Mistake” “Everything I Need”
Men Without Hats (1): “The Safety Dance”
Metallica (1): “One”
Midnight Oil (2): “Beds Are Burning” “The Dead Heart”
Mike + the Mechanics (5): “Silent Running” “All I Need Is A Miracle” “Nobody’s Perfect” “The Living Years” “Seeing Is Believing”
Steve Miller Band (3): “Heart Like A Wheel” “Abracadabra” “I Want To Make the World Turn Around”
Missing Persons (5): “Words” “Destination Unknown” “Walking In L.A.” “Windows” “Give”
Mr. Mister (5): “Hunters of the Night” “Broken Wings” “Kyrie” “Is It Love” “Something Real”
Joni Mitchell (1): “Good Friends”
Kim Mitchell (1): “Go For Soda”
Models (1): “Out of Mind Out of Sight”
Modern English (2): “I Melt With You” “Hands Across the Sea”
Molly Hatchet (1): “Satisfied Man”
Mondo Rock (1): “Primitive Love Rites”
Eddie Money (11): “Think I’m In Love” “Shakin’” “The Big Crash” “Take Me Home Tonight” “We Should Be Sleeping” “I Wanna Go Back” “Endless Nights” “Walk on Water” “The Love In Your Eyes” “Let Me In” “Peace In Our Time”

  • The Clone Ranger

    Please have mercy on Mr Miller!
    IMHO he turned from totally cool to a little too cool, but that’s it.
    Just recently I was at a friend’s house and by chance his I-Pod shuffled Ya-Ya for us and we had a good laugh in a positive way. We event went on listening to the entire Born 2B Blue album just because of that.
    We could imagine good old Steve in the Studio having pure fun when he recodred that intro, which makes everyone expect Donald Fagan’s voice to come up next (or for all you folks at Popdose: Michael McDonald y’all!) and then lay down the vocal track the way it is…
    Way too cool :-)

    And, of course, yeah! Patio Lanterns rules…

  • Playitandbedamned

    Hey, enough with the Steve Miller cracks – or I’ll pull out the Idiot’s Guide on you.

    “Nobody But You” is a great shoulda-been hit, which I noted in the guide. “Ya Ya” is possibly one of the weakest tracks on “Born2 B Blue,” which is his quite satisfactory sojourn into quasi-jazz territory with Ben Sidran’s band and some genuine jazz stars.

    By the way, since the guide was”published,” Miller’s new record, “Bingo,” has come out – a short album of blues covers. His version of Jimmy Vaughan’s “Hey Yeah” is smokin’. And the rest of the album is pretty good. However, he once again was snubbed by the Grammys with Cyndi Lauper getting a nod in the Best Blues Album category over him.

    Popdose. Grammys. Rock and Roll Hall. Sigh. Steve just gets no respect.

  • Anonymous

    Was there a separate Top 40 Airplay chart in effect by the time “Be Good Johnny” hit radio? If so, I’d like to know its peak. I never understood why a domestic 45 wasn’t released, but with 6 million in sales and 15 weeks atop the Billboard 200, I suppose anyone who was truly interested had the album in the first place.

    If the Modern Rock chart had been initiated a few months earlier, the Lemon Drops’ “Inside Out” might have had a shot. World Without End (a #1 ModRock album) is a KoG recommendation should you find it on the cheap. I assume “Where Do We Go From Heaven” saw chart action in ’90.

    The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste came out just as I was starting my career(?) in music retail. Saw them on that tour (and Revolting Cocks later that same year) just down the street from the shop where I worked…and that club is still open and around the corner from KPFT. For the 4th-largest city in the nation, Houston does have its spots of concentration.

    And on the subject of KPFT…two more M entries? Gonna start auditioning tunes for my 1st-half wrapup show on our road trip to Orlando commencing New Year’s Day.

  • KingP

    Also feeling the absence of “Inside Out” by the MLD. A neat tune by a not-so-distinctive Bunnymen-esque act.

    No “Work for Love” from Ministry’s “With Sympathy” debut? I always thought more folks should have reminded the decidedly sinister Mr. Jourgensen of his less-than-terrifying commercial origins. I remember requesting “Work for Love” at the top of my lungs at the front of a Lollapalooza throng some time ago. He didn’t try to whack me with this goatskull mic stand, so I guess he didn’t hear me.

  • Anonymous

    Both “Work for Love” and “I Wanted to Tell Her” made the top 20 of the Club Play chart. With Sympathy itself was a #94 album. Apparently there’s been an expanded reissue in the works but if Jourgensen has ultimate veto power, we’ll never see it.

  • steed

    There might have been an airplay chart at the time, though I’ve never encountered it in my travels – then again, I haven’t looked for it either.

    I recently went back and tried to listen to the entire revolting cocks catalog from start to finish, made it about a 1/4 of the way through.

    I think there might be only one more M – though I don’t have my sheets with me right now to verify. Though when we talked about it originally I kind of remember the 11th sticking in my mind.

  • steed

    No need to bring out the Guide now…them be fightin’ words. To each his own unless you dig “Bongo Bongo.”

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, RevCo’s hard going at times. The CD edition of Big Sexy Land, the original white label 12″ of “Physical” and about half of Beers Steers & Queers are all you need.

    If M wraps up next week, the commemorative Sound Awake will have to wait until the 18th. I’m doing a phone interview with Andy Bell of Erasure on the 11th, so I’m making that an all Erasure/Andy solo show (he’s got a gig in town on the 15th).

  • Anonymous

    When I saw the title of Steve’s new record, “Bongo Bongo” was the first thing to come to mind. Hello there!

  • DwDunphy

    Depends on the label. If Warners owns it, they own the whole bit and there’s not much Jourgensen can do about it. Which label initially had Ministry though… Wax Trax?

  • Anonymous

    With Sympathy was the only album Ministry released on Arista.

    Who knows if it’s ever coming out… I wouldn’t underestimate Al’s power to quash it. It’s hard to find on CD (I guard my two copies with my life), and he pretty much disowns it.

    That early singles collection came out on Wax Trax, as the band released stuff on that label.

    Personally, I think the album’s held up well; it’s a landmark in dark-wave synthpop.

  • Anonymous

    Love the Mighty Lemon Drops. Inside Out is such a jam — I remember hearing that a lot on the radio in the early ’90s; did it hit a soundtrack or something? David Newton is a super nice guy and does a lot of production in LA now; he just did stuff by the awesome new female-fronted fuzz-noisepop band the Happy Hollows.

    Be Good Johnny is so classic — can’t believe it wasn’t an obvious single.

  • smf2271

    Along with Into the Groove, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Once In A Lifetime, and How Soon Is Now, Be Good Johnny is right up there on the list of most recognizable ’80s songs that never made the US Top 100. I’m not so sure it wouldn’t have hit #1, though it would’ve had some pretty tough competition in the Spring of ’83. Top 10 for sure though. It certainly seemed like it was in the top 10 at the time.

    I also totally agree about Dreamworld – if anything, it should’ve been the first single, with Beds Are Burning second, and then perhaps Bullroarer. The Dead Heart is a great song, but it’s just not a single.

    I totally do not agree about Snakes and Ladders though! I think it’s a great tune and also think Chalkmark is her best album of the ’80s (but of course doesn’t have very stiff competition). If you’re reading this and curious, don’t expect it to be another “Blue” though, because it’s most certainly not. But it’s fun to play spot-the-guest-star while listening to it. It’s kind of disjointed, I agree, but that’s part of its charm.

    But I’ll end with an agreement again: Eddie Money. Kind of the Three Dog Night of the ’80s – yeah, all his songs are OK, a few I’d even call pretty good, but does anyone ever listen to an actual album of his, even a greatest hits? And it’s kind of hard to figure out exactly what made him stand out. My theory about why you and I are both liking him less as time wears on? Simple overplayed-ness.

    I have to admit that I actually owned Steve Miller’s “Italian X Rays” album when it was fairly new, and I was about 14, and I liked it. A lot. Then I gave it a listen recently and burst out laughing. I can still honestly say that I was never a huge fan of Bongo Bongo, even at age 14.

  • Brett Alan

    No, Billboard didn’t (re) introduce the pop airplay chart until Oct. 1984, by which time the Cargo hits were long gone.

    It should be mentioned that “I’m Moving On” is a remake of the Yoko Ono song from Double Fantasy. Money’s version came from the Yoko tribute album Every Man Has A Woman.

    Had a hard drive crash this week, so I’m more music-hungry than usual…happily this week has a number of things I’m looking forward to hearing. So thanks!